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Ghostsby Cesar Aira
Synopses & Reviews
Ghosts is about a construction worker's family squatting on a building site. They all see large and handsome ghosts around their quarters, but the teenage daughter is the most curious. Her questions about them become more and more heartfelt until the story reaches a critical, chilling moment when the mother realizes that her daughter's life hangs in the balance.
"Aira, an unusual Argentinean author (How I Became a Nun), writes a compelling novel about a migrant Chilean family living in an apartment house under construction in Buenos Aires. New Year's Eve finds the hard-drinking Chilean night watchman, Ral Vinas, hosting a party with his wife, Elisa, their four small children and Elisa's pensive 15-year-old daughter, Patri. Moreover, ghosts reside in the house: naked, dust-covered floating men, mostly unseen except by Elisa and Patri. The novel engineers a clever layering of metaphorical details about the building, but gradually focuses on Elisa's preparations for the party and her conversations with her daughter about finding a 'real man' to marry. Prodded perhaps by her isolation within the family, Patri accepts the ghosts' invitation to a midnight feast, at her life's peril. Aira takes off on fanciful sociological analogies that seem absurd in the mouths of these simple folk, so that in the end the novel functions as an allegorical, albeit touching, comment on his characters' materialism and class." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A heady, vertigo-inducing fantasia....exhilarating effects and the novel's aesthetic delights are captured with delicate precision by the translator." Natasha Wimmer
"Wonderful...Ghosts is an incitement to the sensuality of thought, of wonder, of questioning, of anticipation." The New York Times
"A languorous, surreal atmosphere of baking heat and quietly menacing shadows...puts one in mind of a painting by de Chirico. [The ghosts] glide into the novel, ephemerally, just as present in their absence as absent in our presence." Jesse Tangen-Mills
"Aira is firmly in the tradition of Jorge Luis Borges and W.G. Sebald, those great late modernists for whom fiction was a theater of ideas." Mark Doty
"Utterly astonishing.His imagination and intelligence are for real." Trevor Berrett
"An engaging read — a weird little story. Wonderfully strange, characteristically taut and yet irreducible... realistic people, places and behavior, and unfettered often dazzling abstraction." Josef Braun
"Ghosts may provide the best evidence to consider the enigmatic César Aira an accomplished and prolific wizard of odd." Marla Johnson
"Once you've started reading Aira, you don't want to stop." Roberto Bolaño
"A languorous, surreal atmosphere of baking heat and quietly menacing shadows...puts one in mind of a painting by de Chirico." The New Yorker
"Wonderful...Ghosts is an incitement to the sensuality of thought, of wonder, of questioning, of anticipation." Thomas McGonigle, Los Angeles Times
"Aira is firmly in the tradition of Jorge Luis Borges and W. G. Sebald, those great late modernists for whom fiction was a theater of ideas." Mark Doty, Los Angeles Times
"Utterly astonishing." San Francisco Chronicle
The most unsettling and stunning of Aira's short novels published so far by New Directions.
About the Author
César Aira(b. 1949) was born in Coronel Pringles, Argentina and has published more than 70 books. In his own novel La silla del guila, Carlos Fuentes imagines that in 2020, César Aira wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Chris Andrews has won the TLS Valle Inclán Prize and the PEN Translation Prize for his Roberto Bolaño translations. A poet who lives and teaches in Australia, he has translated eight Bolaño books and three novels by César Aira for New Directions.
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